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The rainy, mid-30’s temperature and strong winds out of the north made for what my dad would have called a “raw" day, the kind of a day fit for cleaning the chicken house or bullpen where you’d be inside and could work up a sweat. But the weather last  Saturday, March 25 did not deter the crowd who made their way to the picturesque white dairy farmstead a bit north and west of Oxford in Adams county.

The crowd jam-packed the barn/machine shed to be a part of “The 2017 Rosedale Sale of Excellence” or as it was also called The Rosedale Genetics Ltd. dispersal.

In simpler terms and in owners Mark and Nicky Rueth’s words, “We invite you to Rosedale Genetics on March 25th to celebrate the past 16 years we have spent together. With the birth of our first child "Paradise Rose", we feel it is the perfect time to disperse the herd and embrace this new chapter in our lives. Over the years we have had many visitors, show winnings and sale opportunities of which we are very grateful. We feel the herd is currently at its prime for a fabulous event at Rosedale."

$92,000 - sold!

And a fabulous event it was; A standing room only crowd inside with a couple of dozen folks lined up at the rear door hoping to get in (they did); the 123 lots (cows, heifers and calves) averaged $5850 with the top selling animal — a four year old cow (with an already long list of show winnings) — Arolene Goldwyn Divine EX-92. bringing $92,000 from longtime partners Budjon Farms and Peter Vail at Lomira, WI.

Second highest seller was Rosedale Lucky Rose-Red EX-94, a great granddaughter of the famed and foundation cow at Rosedale, Lavender Ruby Red Rose-Red. She was bought by Matt Mitchell of Lafollette, TN. The third highest seller at $20,500 was Rosedale Worth Repeating EX-91, who went to Lamb Farm in New York.

A day later at the coffee drinking and conversation session after church Sunday morning, I mentioned the Holstein sale to a group of unbelieving non-dairy folks who couldn’t  figure out why anyone would pay such money for dairy animals.

It’s about the future

Well there are reasons, all based on the future: Perhaps the animal will grow into being another Red Rose (Expo Supreme Champion in 2005); maybe she’ll become a top genetic producer with offspring (bulls and heifers) that become big time show ring winners and/or the foundation animals in other herds across the land. Possibly her embryos will command a big price on the world dairy genetics market.

Whatever ever the reason, be assured, there was one.

The auction was videoed and streamed to computers across the U.S. by Cowbuyer.com and potential buyers could place live bids and buy via video. Rueth later told me that he was informed that about a quarter of the sales were made that way.

A “pro”

I first met (and wrote about) Mark Rueth at World Dairy Expo in 1993 when he was a professional cattle fitter working for several exhibitors, something he had been doing for a number of years during and after getting a dairy science degree from UW-River Falls.

One of Rueth's long term fitting clients was Vandyk-K Holsteins at Lynden, WA owned by Kent and Trish Van Dyk. “I met them at a sale and they asked me to come to their place,” he says. “I did and ended up working for them for a dozen years. That’s when dairy cattle showing became big time for Rueth the boy from a small farm at Edgerton, WI.

Liked her

“I saw this calf in a pen in the barn and really liked her,“ Rueth remembers, "and I bought her from the Van Dyks who raised her for me. World Dairy Expo records shows that calf — then a cow —  Vandyk-K Integrity Paradise was crowned Supreme Champion in 2000 and repeated in 2002.

Another good buy

It was in 1994, when Mark purchased a bred heifer named Stookey Elm Park Black Rose at a sale in Fond du Lac with Bob and Karyn Schauf of Indianhead Holsteins, Ltd.,Barron, WI, where Blackrose was housed (Rueth did not have a barn) and Mark van Mersbergen from Lynden, WA. “Blackrose” went on to become one of the top cows in the breed in both the show ring and in producing a host of famous offspring. Her legacy remains today through her ability to transmit her type traits through offspring in both the Holstein and Red and White breeds.

Their own barn

In 2001, soon after World Dairy Expo, Mark and his partner (and now wife) Nicky Reape began their own farm in facilities rented from Harry Weier at Deerfield. Rueth was now ready to establish his own herd under the name of Rosedale.

Four years later they bought their small farm near Oxford and Rosedale had a permanent home.

2005 was another great year for Mark and Nicky as their homebred cow Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red (a Blackrose great-granddaughter) was judged World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion — the first Red and White to win that award.

A year later, Rueth was again competing at the show ring’s top level as he led Kinyon Linjet Ideal (owned with Martin Kinyon) to the Reserve Supreme Championship at World Dairy Expo in 2006.

What next?

The hundreds of spectators at the Rosedale sale had the opportunity to see great Holsteins, many of which they will see again at state and national competitions but what about Mark, Nicky and their young daughter? In terms of longevity, the Rosedale name has only been around for 16 years — not a long time as compared to many dairy farms?

Consider: Paradise, Black Rose, Red Rose and the only dairyman to have owned or co-owned four World Dairy Expo Supreme or Reserve Supreme Champions and the breeder of great genetics making their mark in herds across the land. What’s left? As Mark states in the sale catalog: ”It is the perfect time to disperse the herd and embrace this new chapter in our lives.” Could be.

Mark does not offer an answer to my question of “what are you going to do now?  “I don’t know but I need a rest,” is his evasive answer. Maybe I’ll be a freelance dairy writer for the State Farmer,” he says with a laugh. I suspect we’ll see Mark and Nicky Rueth involved with the dairy industry, perhaps even back in the business of breeding cattle. As Mark says, “The farm is still here.”

With the Rosedale sale, two of the much discussed, three registered dairy herd dispersals have been completed: March 18th saw The Willows Edge Holsteins (Henk and Bonnie Van Dyke) Dispersal in New Richmond, WI that brought a sale average of $3,166 on 175 live lots. Yet to come on April 7 is the dispersal of the great Indianhead Holstein herd of Bob and Karen Schauf at Barron, WI.

Indeed it is a strange four week period for Wisconsin as the three internationally known Holstein dairy herds will be sold. Is it a plan, a plot, a scheme? No, just three individual, successful, dairy farm family decisions. They will each be missed in Americas’s Dairyland but as another Holstein breeder commented to me at the sale, “Life goes on.” How true!

John Oncken is owner of Oncken Communications. He can be reached at 608-222-0624, or email him at jfodairy2@gmail.com.

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